“Mom – We wanted to celebrate your special day. Show us this card on Sunday, May 14, 2017 and let us treat you to 6 oz of delicious frozen yogurt with our compliments.”

P.S. Please bring me. Love, M

Tell me how you really feel

This weekend I got a few (about eight) handmade cards for mother’s day. Because my kids are in first, third and fifth grade, no two cards were alike in quality, style or message. Some were hastily cut from construction paper and decorated with stickers that were close at hand (apparently love calls to me as the sea calls to Moana). One contained the very specific message above, thoughtfully crafted to convey emotion and a request. Another card was a carefully folded origami heart with a message glued meticulously into it.

Each card revealed particular gifts that my three children used to create something specific for me. Each card contained a message of love. And each card came with the hope of an affirming response and an appreciation for the effort – that I readily gave.

Why does value-add feel like value-less

The receipt of such wonderful keepsakes recognizing my role as a mom brought to mind a conversation I had with a client earlier last week. We were talking about the value she brings to the work that she does and her frustrations that her value is not being affirmed, recognized, or rewarded. Gradually, the incentive to try harder, to keep bringing her gifts to bear without a positive response, has become exhausting. The lack of encouragement has chipped away at the value she thought she was bringing to the organization and clouded her view of how valuable she is.

Bringing true value to your work begins with knowing and feeling you are valuable.

What do you do when the value you bring isn’t the value your manager or team wants or needs?

Remember that to bring value means you are dependent on someone to receive it.

You take what’s inside of you and gift it to other people and circumstances you can’t control. The impact and response feed the energy you need to keep bringing value again and again and again. Bringing value is dynamic and changeable. The results are, to differing degrees, out of your control. You can put the same amount of emotional and physical energy into two different circumstances and have two very different outcomes.

Recognize the knowledge of and feeling that you are valuable is a matter of independence.

Feeling valuable has everything to do with you. Why? Because no one can MAKE you feel anything. You are in ultimate control of how you feel, how you react, and what you do next. Knowing you are valuable means you know the value you bring and that when you aren’t affirmed, encouraged, or appreciated for it, that value isn’t diminished. The fact that you are valuable doesn’t suddenly become fiction because your manager doesn’t give you the thumbs up.

Reframe your value independently from your job title or function.

What makes you a really great friend, sibling, co-worker, volunteer team member? What do you do well? Are there a few things you always seem to get compliments on? How do those things translate to the value you can bring to work, to your home life, to the PTA? Let’s say you constantly get compliments on your ability to put together a great party. The value you bring may be organization, innovation, strategy, or attention to detail. Surprisingly applicable, right? You are phenomenal!

Still think your value is under appreciated?

It may be time to think about which of your strengths would add the most value in your current role OR it may be time to start looking for a role that needs more of what you bring to the table. Neither of these is easy. You will have to do some serious head time on this. Enlisting the help of a coach comes in really handy for this kind of work – when you have to get out of your own head.

The benefit? When you are successful at finding the right value to bring or the right role for others to observe your value, the recognition will increase, the encouragement will be more frequent, and your energy will rise.

Wouldn’t that be amazing?


Tara is a leadership development speaker and fascinate certified advisor who brings polished, insightful ideas to companies and individuals helping them clarify their distinct value and use it to be fascinating. She loves to help professionals find the positions, promotions and personal lives they love by sharing practical tips and tools that get them from point A to point C while solving for the mysterious point B. 

Hear Tara’s story and follow her at taralynnfoster.com, on linkedin, instagram, or Facebook. Interested in what makes you fascinating? Take the free assessment here.